Q: My nine-year-old gets cankers regularly. What causes them, and how can I prevent and treat them?
A: These painful mouth sores are a common problem, but they should not be present all the time.
There are a few triggers that make them more common in some people, and prevention means avoiding these. Putting fingers in the mouth may disrupt the gum and cause the blister to form. Some have found the ingredient sodium laurel sulphate, found in some toothpastes (check the label), may be a trigger. Acidic and spicy foods may cause the pain to worsen, and some find they seem to cause cankers. Many find they get cankers with a cold or stress. Dirty mouthguards can also be a culprit, so make sure they are cleaned regularly.
Some treatments that ease canker pain or hasten healing include increasing acidophilus in the diet; applying a baking soda paste; dabbing hydrogen peroxide that has been diluted (one part peroxide to one part water); and putting an antacid, such as milk of magnesia, on the area. In severe or constant cases, a trip to the dentist or doctor is needed to rule out more serious gum or immune problems and see if more aggressive treatment is required.